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Scuba Diving Locations - Koh Tao Thailand

This Place Has Magic, a Dark Past and Uncertain Future

This is Diving Koh Tao!

The 'Diving Mecca' of Thailand, Koh Tao is responsible for more dive certification per year than anywhere else in the world combined!
This place has real magic not only underwater but also around the island which captivates you truly. Sometimes jokingly referred to as a drinking island with a diving problem, but actually many visitors come here specially for scuba diving around more than 35 dive sites, 60 scuba schools and the inexpensive scuba certifications offered.
Scuba Diving Locations - Diving Koh Tao Thailand - Stunning Sunsets

Its Dark Past

It hasn't always been sunshine and scuba diving Koh Tao. Largely uninhabited except for fishermen occasionally taking shelter between storms, Koh Tao became a political prison in 1943 with more than 100 prisoners transferred from Ko Tarutao. In 1944 the prisoners were pardoned and released to the mainland where they were met with bowls of food and wishes of good luck from local residents.
Some years passed again on Koh Tao until two brothers made their way there to begin a life for themselves. Followed by their families later. Some say that the abundance of sea turtles nesting at Koh Tao gave it its name of Turtle Island. Another version of events states it was due to its shape when viewed from Ko Pha Ngan. Either way, the turtles have largely moved elsewhere as tourism has grown. Western travellers first stumbled on Ko Tao in the 1980s, leading to the first rickety bamboo bungalows and the islands tourism which scuba diving Koh Tao is now based around.

Koh Tao, The Uncertain Future

The future is uncertain for Koh Tao. Like many of the best dive location in Thailand or across the world even, the islands itself as well as its reefs have seen incredible numbers of divers everyday for many years. At any rate, this can't continue.

As one of the world’s 10 most amazing diving destinations. The coral reef of Koh Tao exhibits abundant diversity and beauty, However, the Island has been rapidly developed non-stop, causing unwise business or activities being created, such as those releasing waste into the sea, run off from the hill to the coral reefs, killing or breaking coral, throwing anchors on coral reef and so on. All affect its marine ecosystem negatively.

Therefore, Save Koh Tao was established by the koh Tao community back in 2000 aiming to raise awareness, research, monitor coral and endangered species along with setting up proper rules and regulations in order to manage our marine natural resources used in its tourism industry.

Where is Koh Tao?

Koh Tao or "Turtle Island" lies 2hrs from the Mainland near Chumphon and every year, thousands of scuba divers and travellers alike flock here to experience the beautiful deep blue waters. On one hand when conditions are good, diving in Koh Tao offers some of the clearest waters, best aquatic life and amazing underwater photography opportunity in Thailand.  On the other hand if you are an experienced season dive traveller who has (for use of a better word) "Been around a bit" The usual everyday dive experience wont blow your socks off. While this may be true, if you still love diving because its diving and not because of 50+m viz whale sharks, manta, hammerheads etc you'll find no bigger ,better dive community in which to immerse yourself in.  
Scuba Diving Locations - Getting To Koh Tao Thailand

Our Favorite Koh Tao Dive Sites

Chumphon Pinnacle | Southwest Pinnacle | Shark Rock | Sail Rock | Twins | Green Rock

Chumphon Pinnacle 

When you ask people, ' what Is the best dive you have had in Thailand?' Chumphon Pinnacle is one of the dive sites in gulf of Thailand that is most remembered! The dive site is centred around a huge granite pinnacle that starts about 15m below the surface and drops off way below 30m. There are also many smaller pinnacles covered in corals and abundant in life as well but lack the centerpiece pinnacles enormous size.
As you descent the line  diving to the west side, you can find a narrow gorge known to filled with bat fish on a regular bases, small nudibranch and other micro life line the nooks and crannies around here. To  North east are two small pinnacles one of which, has a nice overhang at twenty meter deep which often houses some monster sized groupers which we liked a lot.
Multi leveling back towards the surface of the pinnacles, you find many really nice picturesque shots of colorful sea anemone gardens and washes of schools of trevally, batfish, and barracuda. Lucky divers, hopefully equipped with a good wide angle lens will spot giant barracuda and even the occasional whale shark! Chumphon Pinnacle is almost always visited on the morning boats.

Southwest Pinnacle

Southwest is another underwater pinnacle which you reach about 12m below the surface and max out at about 20m deep. Anemone and the clown fish decorate the upper parts of the rock whilst down deeper you will find many holes, ledges teeming with life and often a giant grouper of three. Southwest usually  has great viability, at least it did for our dives and also provided us with some great shots as walls of barracuda cruised by as divers watched on in aw.  This site is almost always visited on the morning boats.

 Shark Rock aka Shark Island.

This dive site is said to get its name from its likeness to a dorsal fin and it is located on the western side of Koh Tao. Features of this site include an abundance of different corals, nudibranchs, stingrays, and moray eels. A point to keep in mind, Shark Rock can run some wicked strong current and at time has very aggressive trigger fish, luckily for us we had no current what so ever, but I did have a curious Trigger have a nibble on my fins!

Sail Rock

Sail Rock is an open water pinnacle located between Koh Tao and Koh Pha Ngan. The dive site takes about two hours to get to from Koh Tao. This is a less visited dive site for diving Koh Tao, mostly scheduled only once a week. Sail Rock is famous for its natural underwater vertical swim through or chimney which divers can enter at 6 metres and exit at 18m. Not to mention its also host to many larger pelagics including chevron barracuda, big schools of mackerel, jacks, trevally and tuna. You may encounter a seasonal whale shark or manta ray here also.

Twins

Twins is just off the coast of Koh Nang Yuan, a tiny island north west of Koh Tao. This site local and easy to access and perfect for training dives as its nice and shallow. Perfect for practicing your underwater photography skills and camera buoyancy on a nice addition here of a family of rare saddleback clownfish living in an anemone that divers have clearly marked with a ring of rocks.

  Green Rock

Green Rock is located north of Koh Nang Yuan. Another easy to access site and is a great deal of fun with its “swim throughs” or cut-throughs that divers can pass through. They are great for practicing buoyancy and finding shy marine life. This is also a popular breeding ground for trigger fish, so dont get to catch up in your underwater photography and keep an eye out for these fish in the 'aggressive' season.

Underwater Photography Diving Koh Tao

Learning or practicing underwater photography in Koh Tao is brilliant! Although be careful since a  very serious addiction to the diving and aquatic life behind the lens can be caught!! You can find some really good courses and photo masters here. Dive4Photos with Alex Tyrrell is a very good option for those wanting to learn from a true photography specialist rather than your general scuba instructor / photographer. Not that scuba instructors don't make great underwater photography teachers, they do, ha, I am one but that said, you can find this and more on Koh Tao! Even UV photography! Now that's REALLY cool.

More Info on Koh Tao Wreck Dives Here. Also One Of Koh Tao's Shipwrecks Featured in Adam Leaders "The Sailor's Angel" Here

Have You Been Diving In Koh Tao?
Whats your Thoughts?
Comment and Let us Know!

Andrew Jennings
Andrew Jennings
You host and creator of underwater clicks.